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Botticelli portrait

Botticelli portrait sells for $92.2M at New York auction

Botticelli portrait
Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, called Sandro Botticelli, ‘Young Man Holding a Roundel,’ tempera on poplar panel. Estimate in excess of $80 million, the masterpiece sold for $92.2 million. Image courtesy Sotheby’s

NEW YORK – One of the finest portraits ever painted by Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli, Young Man Holding a Roundel, sold Thursday at Sotheby’s for a record $92.2 million.

Just one of three portraits left in private hands by this leading artist of the Italian Renaissance, known to many for his famous Primavera and Birth of Venus, the painting had attracted presale interest from institutional and private buyers alike. The price achieved Thursday makes it not only one of the most valuable portraits of any era ever sold, but also the second most valuable Old Master painting ever sold auction – second only to the much-discussed Salvator Mundi, sold in 2017.

“This is not only an exceptional painting, it is also the epitome of beauty, and of a moment when so much of our Western civilization began. Today’s result is a fitting tribute, both to the painting itself and all that it represents,” said Christopher Apostle, head of Sotheby’s Old Masters Painting Department, New York.

Ahead of Thursday’s auction Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel had taken a world tour, having been exhibited in London, Dubai, Los Angeles and New York, and attracting hundreds of admirers at every stop. In the past 50 years, the painting has spent extended periods on loan at the National Gallery, London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. It has also featured prominently in major exhibitions at the Royal Academy, the National Gallery of Art, Washington and the Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main.

The Botticelli now stands alongside Francis Bacon’s Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus ($84.6 million) as the second work to have surpassed $80 million at auction since Sotheby’s pioneered the new live-streamed auction format some seven months ago.

The previous auction record for Sandro Botticelli was $10.4 million for the ‘Rockefeller Madonna: Madonna and Child with Young St. John the Baptist,’ which sold for at Christie’s New York in 2013.

Botticelli portrait